Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Welcome to my community

by: Sonu Rani Das

Welcome to my community. I come from a community called Dalits (Untouchables). Dalits are not created by God, this idea is created by people and society and goes back to the creation of the caste system within Hindu religion.

My community people are all Hindu and we all follow the Hindu religion. My community people are very frank, sociable and hospitable people. My community is very poor and most of our community people live below the poverty line. Many of us work for the Pourashava (Municipality) as cleaners, where they earn very little money (2200 Taka (~28 US$) per month). This is why we can’t get the same opportunities like other people. Most of us are illiterate and don’t understand the importance of basic rights we have like education, health and sanitation, housing, good food, entertainment etc.

Illiteracy is one of the problems and another problem is discrimination. Some people understand that there are good and bad living conditions but they can’t escape their bad living conditions because they face too much discrimination. For example, if Dalit children go to school the teachers do not teach them properly and the classmates’ behavior towards them is horrible. My community children are very intelligent but sometimes they don’t get the opportunity to go to school. In the past, when they tried to go to school the school doors were closed to them. This is now better in urban areas but sometimes still the case in rural areas. Now some of them go to school, college, even university, but they don’t honestly say: "I am Dalit". They say:"We are Hindu".

Nobody in my community has their own land but we stay on somebody else’s land. As many of us work for the Pourashava the Pourashava selects one place and we stay there. If any one does not work for the Pourashava anymore they lose their house. That’s why at least one family leader or family member has to work for the Pourashava. Some people in my community are Government employees and their salary is quite good. But most of my community people work for the Pourashava and the salary is not enough. Very few people try to find more jobs so they can get additional money. But most of them earn money by selling rubbish like alcohol, ganja, heroine etc. So when it gets dark in my community a lot of unknown faces come and they buy this type of drugs. Now my community is full of noise and horrible. These people harass our girls and intimidate them. I have no words to explain how bad this situation is.

In my community all of us face problems but girls face more problems than boys. If girls are born, the family members are usually not happy. They think girls mean a burden for us. The parents give all opportunities to boys not to girls. Boys are allowed to go to school, girls not. They think a girl’s education means a waste of money. They always say you are suitable for the kitchen and household chores. Now quite a few boys are educated but only very few girls are. I think if young people get the opportunity to higher education it is possible to solve the problems of Dalits.

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